Seattle Improvised Music Festival 2009

[Ed: Updated Feb. 13th  now that the final schedules seem to be in place]

This weekend is the first of two weekends for this years SIMF. Once again there is a lot of music packed into the two weekends, even more then normal as this year some sets feature multiple performances.  I’ve covered the festival at length the last few years and once again I do intend to attend the bulk of it.

As usual the festival brings in a number of national and international improvisers and showcases them within their own contexts (solo or their own projects) as well as in various combinations with regional improvisers.  The two halves of the festival feature different groups of guests and locals with some overlap with the locals. The second half seems to still be up in the air; previously there was a number of shows listed with Micheal Thieke, Kai Fagaschinski and Lê Quan Ninh that are now all TBA.  [ed: not TBA at all, see comments for hints to why].

Anyway with the second week still up in the air, lets just focus on the first half of the festival:

February 13th

7pm: Chapel Performance Space

  1. Greg Kelley / Doug Theriault / Kelvin Pittman trio
    Christine Sehnaoui solo
  2. Greg Kelley / Gust Burns / Mara Sedlins / Mark Collins / Wilson Shook quintet
    Andrew Drury solo
  3. Liz Tonne solo
    large ensemble

February 14th

12pm: Gallery 1412

Workshops with festival Improvisers TBD

7pm: Chapel Performance Space

  1. Greg Kelley solo
    Christine Sehnaoui / Liz Tonne duo
  2. Kelvin Pittman solo
    Wally Shoup / Greg Kelley / Andrew Drury trio
  3. Doug Theriault solo
    large ensemble

February 15th

12pm: Gallery 1412

Panel Discussion with festival Improvisers TBD

7pm: Gallery 1412

  1. Kelvin Pittman / Andrew Drury duo
  2. Christine Sehnaoui / Greg Kelley / Doug Theriault / Gust Burns quartet
  3. Large Ensemble

The first half features Greg Kelley, a fantastic trumpeter from the east coast in various combinations with regional players. Kelley, one half of nmperign, plays trumpet in about the most extended manner possible, working in small, spare sounds, sometimes augmented with simple preparations and the occasional electronic effects.  The first performance he is involved with is highly intriguing: a trio with Kelvin Pittman and Doug Theriault.  Pittman is a great sax player from Portland OR, who  is a versatile player that I’ve seen in numerous contexts but have enjoyed the most his abstract work that doesn’t at all remind me of Butcher, or Rives or Wright.  Theriault, I haven’t seen in a long time and am quite curious what he is up to now. A curious mix of guitar and “live electronic music systems” which IIRC are semi-autonomous  software programs he interacts with via his guitar. In this set along with this trio, will be Andrew Drury, a NYC based percussionist, performing solo. I’ve heard Drury in a couple of combo’s, but am not really up on his sound so I’m looking forward to get a chance to become familiar with his work.

The second set features Kelley with the Gust Burns Quartet, whom I’ve seen before and quite enjoy. Kelley’s minimal, sound oriented playing should meld perfectly with this quartet and is definitely a set I’m looking forward to. Performing solo this set, is MA based vocalist Liz Tonne.  I have not enjoyed the work of hers that I have heard in the past, either solo or in combination, but I know she has her fans. You can download a track from her (and also Kelley) from the excellent Music Overheard comp to a preview..

The final set is Christine Sehnaoui solo, apparently a France based Saxophonist whom I’m completely unaware of (always exciting!) and the ubiquitous “large group”, which presumably is all of the nights musicians performing in one large group. Somewhat of a cliche for these types of festivals, but one that SIMF has not indulged in for the last few years. But it is back in force, with each night ending with this. New this year is the solo along with a group for each set. This is interesting I think, especially as these solos tend to be pretty short.  It guarantees a full evening of music and the festival is starting early (7pm) each night to accommodate this.

The next two nights involve various combinations of the players introduced on this first night. Greg Kelley solo is sure to be a highlight and I’m curious about Pittman and Theriault’s solos as well. I’m not sure how the Kelley/Drury/Wally Shoup trio will work out: Wally Shoup is more of the fire music class of the free jazz school and I’m not sure how Kelley will fit in with that.  I’m looking forward to the the Sehnaoui/Kelley/Theriault/Burns quartet curious how Sehnaoui’s “personal language of electronic music on an acoustic instrument” will work out with Kelley’s minimalisms, Theriaults electronics and Gusts dry tones.

It is looking to be another strong year for the SIMF and I’m definitely looking forward to a number of sets and am curious about several more. If you can only make one day, I’d make the Friday that day, but there are great looking sets every day. Additionally there are workshops and roundtables, though no details about those have been released yet.